Every year Marshall Shannon, the director of operations at Image Technology Consulting, has a Christmas party and invites friends and colleagues from the industry to his 140,000 square-foot facility in Desoto Texas. This year the party was held at the new barn he built next to the new house he's building.
At RSNA, I attended a number of parties and met with lots of people. However, I have to say the vibe at the Image event was completely different from anything I attended at the big radiology meeting in Chicago.
Although everyone at the event has the responsibility to generate revenue, nobody seemed to be focusing on the financial side of the business. There was lots of talk about equipment and service and the challenges that everyone was facing, but I did not see any of the wheeling and dealing I saw at RSNA.
The interesting aspect of independent service companies, although they frequently generate revenue by making sales, their main goal is to keep machines running and I think the main way they get business is through setting realistic expectations. Successful engineers do not overpromise just to get the business. It seems they'd rather walk away than get into a situation where they cannot keep their promise. This may not be true of all service engineers but I think it's true of the successful ones.
Different service companies service different equipment and from time to time, these independent service entrepreneurs have to help each other out and they don't see it as competition, they see it as helping a colleague. It's a very interesting dynamic and completely different from firms that concentrate on selling equipment.
In fact, sometimes firms that sell equipment are in conflict with the engineering groups because the relationship between the salesperson and the equipment service person is frequently a zero-sum game.
When I think about the most successful sales companies almost all have service teams and the sales executives do not overpromise.
All that mumbo-jumbo aside, this event was very relaxed. Here are some photos.
Marshall Shannon, Aleta Cronce, Philip Jacobus and Barbara Fahringer
Marshall, and his life partner Alita Cronce are shown standing next to my wife Barbara and myself. I'm not sure if you can see it, Marshall is wearing a $9000 antique cowboy revolver. It was not loaded but it was still heavy. Marshall has a collection of pistols and rifles and he looked a little like Clint Eastwood.
Mr. Ma Khan from Mediser Scan Technology was visiting from India and was full of energy. Marshall was in the photo as well.
Jim Blandi, Autumn Blandi, Dave Milligan
When we arrived we were met by Dave Milligan pictured here in his hockey jersey along with Autumn and Jim Blandi.
Dave is the politician in the company and he's the consummate charmer. He really knows how to make the clients feel important. Marshall's hands and his brain are moving hundred miles an hour so Dave plays an important role.
Jim is an institution and Autumn is the only person I have ever met who can control him.
Larry Knight, Barbara, Patty Knight.
Patty and Larry arrived shortly after we did. Larry works for Altima Diagnostic Imaging and he is well know for his knowledge of Siemens MRIs and he is known as a person who will help you when you are in a jam. Patty was quite stylish. She is wonderful person. When she is not taking care of her two grandchildren she works for the local school district.
Barbara and I are friendly with Patty and Larry and we look for the chance to visit them. They took us to Waxahatchee during the day. and the grand kids joined us. You can see one of them on my shoulders here
Renee works with Larry Knight at Altima Diagnostic Imaging. She keeps the trains running at ADIS. This is the first time I met her husband Troy, who is an interesting guy for sure. Troy turned me on where to buy a cowboy hat.
Adam Monforton, Jeremy Reigle
Adam works for Altima Diagnostic Imaging with Renee Jones and Larry Knight. I am told he is quite a engineer. Jeremy works with Southern States Imaging and he was a real pleasure to visit with. As you can see he is a positive thinker.
William Dixon with Advantage Medical Electronics is a Philips expert and very warm and friendly fellow. I never really had the chance to visit with him before and I'm glad I had the opportunity. He opened the gate for us, (it took an engineer to open the gate). I did not have a chance to share with William that one of his clients called me to say how happy there were because he helped them when they had issues.
Jim Beier, John Holberg, Don McCormack.
Wow what a group! Jim works for Sumitomo and he's one of the more knowledgeable people I know when it comes to coldhead compressors.
John works for Brooks Medical Systems and has been in the healthcare industry for decades. He's one of those fellows where his word is his bond.
Don works for Southwestern Medical Resources and is one of the more innovative people in the business. He's constantly reinventing himself and he has many interests, including sales, service, coils, coldheads and who knows what else. I think it's possible that he will step back a little and let his children take over the business. I'm only sorry that Don's wife didn't join us because she's such a lovely person.
Zack Takavoli, Maria Denson, Donnie McCormack III
Zack works for Technomed and he was a pleasure to visit with because not only was he polite and a gentleman but he gave the impression of honesty and it's great to see young people coming up with instilled values.
Maria is with JDIS and I had met her at RSNA and Donnie is Don's son at Southwest, and one of the nicest people you will meet. I say this because it is true not because he lent me his Audi convertible.
Melissa is also an institution in our industry. Barbara and I have know her for over 30 years. She does accounting for many firms including Marshall and Image Technology.
Jake Lewis, Chris Carithers
Jake and Chris work for Clearview Imaging Resources. While they are both engineers I think they both have some business responsibilities. You can tell that they are comfortable in the boardroom or the loading dock.
Peter Price, David Hubert
Peter works with Shared Imaging and has for a long time. He enjoys a great reputation and has been in the field a long time. He's standing next to David with SAMEI Inc, (founeded by Bach Nguyan). David just finished a cross-country trip in his tricked out van. He's one guy I was jealous of because the idea of driving across country in a van is pretty tempting to me but as a married man I don't see it happening any time soon.
Bailey Rodriguez, Jody Rotenizer
Bailey Rodriguez and her husband Jesus Rodriguez work for Virtus Imaging Partners in Florida. They do coil repairs, some amplifier and gradient repairs, and MRI components. I did not get a chance to visit with Jesus to learn more about his company but maybe I'll have the chance in the future.
Jody works for Pinnacle Health Services and together with his partner Greg Sternberg they service Philips and GE equipment. Greg has quite a sense of humor and I'm sure is very charming when he is in the hospital. This was a high watermark for Jody being seen in a photograph with such a stylish young woman.
Donnie McCormack III, Aleta Cronce
Here we are at the end of the night with Aleta and Donnie.
I'm sorry I didn't have a photo of all of the nice people that I met that it really was a pleasure and a very congenial atmosphere.
Phil is a member of AHRA, HFMA, AAMI and the Cryogenic Society of America. He has contributed to a number of magazines and journals and has addressed trade groups.
Phil's proudest achievement is that he has been happily married to his wife Barbara since 1989, who helped him found DOTmed in 1998.